Cinema Studies Group a cuny graduate center student organization

Cinema Studies Group

Conference Schedule

Panel Schedule & Abstracts

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Archives, Expansion, Containment – 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Moderator: Marc Dolan

Alison Wielgus, University of Wisconsin-Superior, “Watch Out! The World’s Behind You: Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable and the Promises of Expanded Cinema”

The Exploding Plastic Inevitable was a yearlong series of collaborative performances by Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground. A media phantasmagoria, the Velvet Underground played aggressive drones while Warhol projected multiple films, often at the same time, on the bodies of the band members. My presentation will use our limited access to the EPI to mind the gap between historic spectators and us. In doing so, I will consider how the space of imagined spectatorship emerges when expanded cinema events fade into a set of incomplete traces.

Gwendolyn Shaw, The Graduate Center, CUNY, “Maya Deren in Haiti”

During her three trips to Haiti between 1947 and 1951, Maya Deren created a multimedia and multidisciplinary corpus of work that refuses a single framework, methodology, or type of representation. The legacy of Deren’s Haiti project includes her refusal of the epistemic violence of a single unitary mode of representation, which continues to speak to us through the polyvocal, multimedia archive she left behind. The resonance this project has for contemporary theories about the African Diaspora, the Caribbean, fluidity and the sea, and postcolonial theory make it lush territory for exploration and research in our present moment. My paper discusses the impact Deren’s multidisciplinary archive has on recent conceptualizations of history, identity, and diaspora, arguing for its place among her work and scholarship on it.

Justin McKinney, Independent Scholar, “Kim Jong-Il: Dictator, Cinephile, Film Archivist?”

This presentation examines the circumstances and creation of the massive private film collection by former North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il, with a particular focus on his influence upon the North Korean National Film Archive. This session will explore Kim Jong-Il’s cinema obsession, the complicated nature of this collection, and the challenges faced by a National Film Archive that exists in a totalitarian regime.


Heritage, Genealogy, Ephemerality – 11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m.
Moderator: Amy Herzog

David Han, York University, “The Rust in the Furrow: A (Mis)Guided Tour through the Archives of a Heritage Village”

This paper presents the locative and sculptural media art project The rust in the furrow: A (mis)guided tour. Exhibited as part of Land|Slide Possible Futures (, a large-scale public art exhibition that took place on the grounds of the Markham Museum in the fall of 2013, this project employed the formal qualities of narratively-driven museum presentation (audio guide, video documentary, sculptural “artifacts”) to integrate past and present facts and fictions. This destabilization and re-imagination of history aimed to recontextualize both the Museum itself and present-day Markham, as well as foster the expansion of possibilities for the Markham of the future.

Natalie Greenberg, Concordia University, “‘Begin with yourself’: Online Genealogy, Archives, and Politics”

Family trees are a means of forming personal histories from the excess of information available, and the chaos and complexity of history. Often problematically linear, conservative and Western, the family tree becomes embedded within the database software and file formats used and shared online by genealogists. Yet, much of online genealogy formed through the collaboration of personal archival materials and publicly accessible materials, woven together using privatized and religious websites such as The problematic site of public, private, and personal configures a neoliberal subject through the unpaid labour creating a personal archive, and its parasitic relationship to public archives.

Laura LaPlaca, Northwestern University, “‘Something into Nothing’: Re-Considering ‘Ephemerality’ as We Approach the Broadcast Archive”

This talk suggests that we rethink the ways in which the concept of “ephemerality” guides (and perhaps skews) our experience of the broadcast archive. How might attending instead to the stark materiality – size, shape, weight – of broadcast history work as an incitement to intellectual curiosity and a path to innovative research?


Actors, Identity, Agency – 2:15-3:45 p.m.
Moderator: Paul Julian Smith

Sara E. Bakerman, University of Southern California, “Archives of Agency: Star Intervention in the Development of Cultural Memory”

This paper explores the longevity of studio-era stardom in popular memory, using archival documents to identify the ways in which stars, including Katharine Hepburn and Lauren Bacall, actively participated in the perpetuation of their images in the decades following their heyday. Numerous stars maintained personal archives of correspondence, contracts, and other documents that were donated to special collections libraries, and the existence of such materials can illuminate how stars contributed to the cultural historicization of their fame. While these collections remain largely unseen by the public, they demonstrate how stars labored to preserve their cultural legacies in various forms since the fall of the studio system.

Travis L. Wagner, University of South Carolina, “The Queer Potentiality of Silence: Sound and Identity in Newsreel Drag Show Recordings”

Newsreels from the 1920s through the 1940s capture drag shows involving men parodying gender with absurd, hyper-performative versions of jest-filled femininity. However, many drag shows within newsreel archives include silent reels, mostly outtakes of potentially used footage.  Accordingly, one can begin to ask about the queer potential of images, such as men kissing men in drag, repeatedly, without evoking humor. Here, silence is key to interpretation. This presentation considers these outtakes (many of which never made it beyond the category of outtakes ) within a queer history, interrogating the implications of their unworthiness for inclusion in edited newsreel stories.

Simona Schneider, University of California, Berkeley, “Mediating the 50s & 60s: The Case of the Shapeshifter Giorgia Moll”

In Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt (1963), one particular figure, the translator (Giorgia Moll), seems to disappear from almost every scene even as the plot pivots on her mediation between national movie production and storytelling systems. Moll, an Italian-German actress particularly active in the 1950s-60s was a medium throughout her career, performing cultural cross-dressing, and thereby translating many different ethnicities. In sharing excerpts from a film project, this presentation will explore what vision of subjectivity, identity, and otherness, what has been lost in this archive, and what we might recuperate.


Politics, Power, Police – 4:00-5:45 p.m.
Moderator: David A. Gerstner

David Fresko, The New School, “Marxism and Montage: Emile de Antonio’s Archives”

This paper investigates how Emile de Antonio drew from legacies of the Soviet avant-garde to pursue an archive-based approach to montage that transformed the cinema into a tool for composing Marxist historiography in two films: In the Year of the Pig (1969) and Underground (1975). Such films employ disjunctive editing to blow these archives’ contents out of the continuum of linear history and show the historical mechanisms driving U.S. foreign policy and its antagonists. Producing international political consciousness was critical to this cutting. Yet I argue both films realize and question the stability of political internationalism as a category of thought and action.

Soyi Kim, University of Minnesota, “Facing the Effaced Photographs: Indelible Presence of Illicit Subjects of History”

As a volatile but constant venue for the re/construction of political codes to understand the past, historical photographs pose a challenge to both the public and private identification of historical events with their visual alteration. This paper introduces two artists’ projects that revisit photographic archives using strategies of partial erasure —1972, Vietnam by Czech artist Pavel Maria Smejkal (2009) and Baqari’s Wife by Lebanese artist Akram Zaatari (2004)—and analyzes how their partial effacement affects the mainstream historical understanding by creating a unique relationship with viewers and, articulating the rich complexity of the social experience that would have otherwise been quashed under the mediation of visual and political stereotype.

Snowden Becker, University of California, Los Angeles, “Extracting the Evidentiary: Ethical Archival Practices in the Bodycam Era”

This paper summarizes recent research by citizen watchdogs, police professional groups, and policy advocates on best practices in the use of body-mounted cameras and eyewitness footage, and juxtaposes them with recent and historic examples of police-generated media. This comparison of ideal and actual uses of recorded evidence in the past sheds light on the potential impact of retention policies for newer and non-evidentiary recordings, and speculates on further changes effected by the transition from analog media to digital formats.


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